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Part of the political debate this week focused on the decision of the mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, to build a 600,000-tonne waste-to-energy plant to solve the age-old waste issue in the city. It is a decision that has become of national importance because the authority to build the waste-to-energy plant will be given to Gualtieri through the government’s “Aid Decree”. In fact, waste management is normally the responsibility of the regions, but the government has given Gualtieri, who belongs to the Democratic Party, special powers as commissioner for the next Jubilee. Gualtieri, therefore, will be able to authorize the construction of a new plant.
The 5 Star Movement opposed this part of the decree, to the point that it did not vote for it in the Council of Ministers together with the other majority parties. Commenting on this divergence after the approval of the decree earlier this week, Prime Minister Mari Draghi said: “We are sorry, but I hope that in the end this does not translate into generalized fibrillation, it is a disagreement that we will try to overcome in some way. “. However, in the following days the controversies continued, both on the part of the leader of the Movement, Giuseppe Conte, and on the part of the founder and guarantor Beppe Grillo.
The day after the approval of the government decree, Conte has said to journalists: «The Movement was particularly disappointed yesterday, because of a provision dedicated to the energy situation […] a rule was inserted that had nothing to do with it, even a rule on incinerators throughout Italy and then it turned to an incinerator only in Rome “. Conte then spoke of a “blank bill” given to Gualtieri to build the plant and added: “That is not an ecological transition”.
On Wednesday, then, Conte has said during a press conference that the part of the decree relating to the waste-to-energy plant “turns the clock back” and therefore “cannot be combined with trust”, referring to the hypothesis that the government poses the question of trust on the vote in Parliament to approve the decree. If the 5 Star Movement did not vote at that point, a government crisis would open.
According to the Movement, the plant to be built in Rome goes against European directives which provide for the overcoming of waste incineration for the benefit of recycling. Beppe Grillo also spoke on the issue with an article on his blogin which he wrote on Friday that “burning waste is the negation of the circular economy, even more so if you think that this plant will still need a landfill at its service to dispose of the ashes produced by combustion”.
Gualtieri, on the other hand, argues that the latest generation incinerators – like the one he wants to build – have a relatively low environmental impact, and that similar plants are present also “in other European capitals such as London, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen”. In any case, Gualtieri could encounter resistance even within his own majority in the city council, in particular from the Greens and the ecological civic left movement: while not openly criticizing the decision to build the waste-to-energy plant, both parties have asked Gualtieri to involve the majority and citizenship.
In support of the mayor there are instead his entire party, the PD, and Carlo Calenda, leader of Action which has three councilors in the city council. On Friday, on Twitter, Calenda responded to Grillo’s article writing than «burning waste to produce energy is circular economy “and that” clean capitals “have a waste-to-energy plant, the alternative is to take the waste to landfills.